A New Leash on Life: Benefits of Dog Training Programs in Prisons

Leslie, Sarah. "A New Leash on Life: Benefits of Dog Training Programs in Prisons". Law, Societies, and Justice Honors Report, 2021.

Dog training programs in correctional facilities (DTPs) where inmates groom, kennel, and train service, support, and companion dogs have become widespread. Prior research shows that DTPs are beneficial, and reported recidivism rates for DTP participants are lower than rates for more traditional vocational program participants and those of the general prison population. In this paper, I argue that DTPs are highly beneficial for participants due to the human-animal bond. Specifically, DTPs allow participants to build a relationship with a dog which brings them love and builds their confidence. Also, through teaching and training the dogs, inmates are able to gain emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. In particular, DTP participants learn good communication skills, how to work through behavior, how to regulate their own emotions and cause-and-effect relationships. Inmates’ restored well-being as well as the vocational skills and certificates that accompany DTPs, allow participants a better chance when re-entering society. In making this argument, I draw on previous literature and five interviews I conducted with women who have either worked at or taken part in Prison Pet Partnership, the DTP at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.

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